Last year, around this time, we reported on the gruesome murder of then 19-year-old Jessica Chambers in Mississippi. She was discovered walking down the street on fire, collapsing and dying. Her murder made national news, but was quickly overrun by other events. Now, a break in the case may have taken place as a gang of 17 suspected gang members between the ages of 18 and 40 has been made by the FBI.
Those arrested were part of an FBI sting called “Operation Bite Back.”
The Clarion Ledger reports:
Officials say the operation focuses on Panola County and is a byproduct of the deep investigation that has come through the probe into the death of Jessica Chambers, a 19-year-old woman burned alive on Dec. 6, 2014, in Courtland. Just after 8 p.m., Chambers was doused with gasoline and set on fire in her car next to the gate to private land on Herron Road. She got out of the car and was found on the road with burns over most of her body. She died hours later at a hospital in Memphis.
Panola County Sheriff Dennis Darby said Tuesday’s arrests are not directly related to Chambers’ death but to information gathered as authorities have interviewed more than 150 people and sorted through more than 20,000 phone records trying to find her killer.
FBI spokesman Jason Pack said as the FBI assisted state and local investigators, suspected illegal activity came to light and resulted in the indictments and arrests Tuesday morning. The indictments in both the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi and Mississippi’s 17th Circuit Court District charge the 17 suspects on a variety of violations ranging from child endangerment, possession of stolen firearms, narcotics sales and felon in possession of a firearm to possession of counterfeit currency.
With these arrests, the case is far from cold, even though it’s been over a year since Jessica’s murder.
Sheriff Darby said, “You consider ’48 Hours,’ that’s on TV, and when it gets beyond that is when real investigators get to work. It’s quiet because there’s nothing fresh and new in the news media, but it’s very, very active.”
“We attempted to use the behavioral sciences unit with the FBI, and for what reason I’m not 100 percent certain, but this type of case, according to what we’ve learned, they couldn’t be of help to us,” District Attorney John Champion said.
“You look at who is capable of doing this, and a large majority of the population is ruled out, because they’re not capable. But that doesn’t mean that someone who wouldn’t be capable couldn’t start for the first time,” he added. “We think we know what type of person did this, but until we actually know who did this, it’s hard to say if our speculations are accurate or not.”
“It’s taken eight or nine months if not a little longer to get to this point,” Champion said. “And this is not over by any stretch of the imagination.”
The men charged in the case are:
- Lyndon Mosely Jr., 24, distribution of crack cocaine
- Edward House, 39, distribution of powder cocaine and distribution of crack cocaine
- Joshua Cannon, 25, cocaine possession
- Anand Vijay Shegog, 39, sale of a controlled substance
- Mondarious Armstead, 23, public drunk; receiving stolen property; possession, sale, transfer of stole firearm
- Gregory B. Andrews, 22, distribution of powder cocaine (x2)
- D’lirian Case, 18, attempt to pass counterfeit and passing counterfeit
- Janicholas Vankeith Scott, 34, sale of cocaine
- James Mosely Jr., 26, robbery, sale of cocaine, presenting false cocaine in state
- George Todd, 23, attempt to pass counterfeit
- Dedrick Ivery, 39, possession of controlled substance; child abuse; firearm enhancement; felon in possession of firearm in proximity to school/church
- Antonio Johnson, 28, possession controlled substance with intent
- Xavier Hooks, 25, possession gun by felon; possession of a stolen gun
- Kevin Windfield, 37, sale of controlled substance
- Elgin Lamar, 38, possession of controlled substance (x2); possession of controlled substance with intent, child endangerment (x2)
- Deon Smith, 20, passing counterfeit
- Stanley Coleman, 40, sale of cocaine (x4)
While each of these suspects were arrested and charged with various crimes, not one of them has been charged with Chambers’ murder? Why? Investigators are not saying, but from various statements and reports believe they either have the person or persons who committed the murder or the suspects know the murderer.
Jessica had left her home on December 6, 2014 to clean her car. She was seen on surveillance video just minutes before her death, and some of that video appears to have been edited, possibly to conceal a person involved in the murder. Her body was doused in flammable liquid, including having it poured down her throat and in her nose, inside her car and set on fire. According to the Ledger, the trees where her car was burned still bear the burns from the heat of the blaze. She was able to get out of the car and communicate a name to firefighters who arrived on the scene just before she died.
More a thorough investigation of the Jessica Chambers murder, check out Katie J. M. Baker’s column at BuzzFeed.
Hopefully, those who committed the murder will soon be brought to justice.